Those of you who were paying attention last week may remember that this week I promised a review of a "beloved and adorable" neighborhood dining establishment—if only I could manage to get there on a day they were open. Well, last Wednesday I checked and double-checked my schedules, then made the long, dusty trek from my neighborhood stomping grounds to the Redwing Bakery, a veritable oasis tucked into a corner of SE 6th Avenue. The place was worth the wait.
Redwing reminds me of my hippie preschool, but in a really good way. The large, open space is both comfortable and utilitarian, with colorful walls, cafeteria-style seating, and a peculiar logic-defying ability to seem cozy on cold days, yet cool and inviting on hot ones. Unlike preschool, there were no snot-encrusted kids with permanent juice mustaches—only a strikingly friendly staff.
We didn't make it in time for breakfast, so I can't tell you how Red Wing's biscuits and gravy are—but I'm guessing they're good, since comfort food seems to be a house specialty. The menu is mostly limited to soups, salads, and sandwiches, plus a daily quiche offering. There's also a mouthwatering selection of baked goods to complement Redwing's topnotch coffees (all of which are organic, fair trade, and roasted in-house).
For a late lunch, I ordered the eight-dollar half-sandwich, soup, and salad combo, and even though I was ravenous when I sat down, I couldn't finish the ginormous meal that unfolded in front of me. From the short list of salad options, we chose the Oregon salad: pear, ground hazelnuts, and a generous handful of blue cheese over mixed baby greens, all dressed in an irreproachable balsamic vinaigrette (which I greedily sopped up with a piece of spongy, house-made focaccia). Both the soups of the day, corn chowder and a black bean chili, were flavorful and filling—although the black bean chili was a little, well, plain (close inspection revealed small pieces of tomato and what I can only hope were bits of onion—adding some heartier veggies or tofu would've made for a much more interesting dish).
My veggie sandwich, made with baby greens, tomato, cucumbers, and provolone and served with a completely unnecessary side of chips, was disappointing. Although the veggies were notably fresh and the peeled cucumber slices a treat, the allegedly "pesto" mayo tasted a lot like regular mayo, and it joined forces with the provolone to squelch those tasty veggies beneath an onslaught of creamy whiteness.
Though my sandwich was a letdown, Redwing's stocked pastry shelf made sure I wasn't left with a bad taste in my mouth. For dessert, I opted for a vegan raspberry bar: the pastry was crumbly and rich, topped with a toothsome layer of vibrant raspberry preserve. I washed all of this down with a glass of house-brewed ginger ale—I have to say, I love me some ginger ale—and this was one of the finest I've ever tried.
While the menu has some pitfalls, most of the food I tried was sincerely good: earnest, unpretentious dishes made from quality ingredients. I got a whole lot of food for not too much money, and I waddled out of Redwing ready for naptime.